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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

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“It’s On Us”

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Stickers by REPP list campus resources for survivors of sexual assault (Photo by Matt Barret ’19).

St. Joe’s receives second sexual assault prevention grant

Last week, St. Joe’s received the It’s On Us grant, which awarded the university $30,000 for sexual assault awareness education and prevention, according to Mary-Elaine Perry, Ph.D, title IX coordinator.

The university applied for the grant in January, Perry said, and the funds will be available to the university until the end of this December.

With this money, Perry explained, the university hopes to potentially hire Jackson Katz, Ph. D., a well-known gender violence and sexual assault educator, to speak about the role men can and do play in the issue.

“It [sexual assault] is everybody’s issue,” Perry said. “We just don’t know it yet.”

Perry said that the grant could also potentially be used to make new educational materials, such as a new, updated video to be shown to freshmen at orientation and student groups like fraternities and athletic teams.

St. Joe’s Rape Education and Prevention Program (REPP) member Brooke Boykas ’18 said that new educational materials would be beneficial to the student body, to increase awareness of such issues as sexual assault and domestic violence.

“If they don’t know what a healthy relationship is,” Boykas said, “it’s really easy to confuse an abusive one for a normal one.”

One more use for the grant money is something that the student body will not see: a more efficient computer system to compile reports of sexual assault experienced by students.

Currently, Perry explained, the system is not computerized, and every incident must be recorded manually, a process which is often time-consuming and which does not allow for easy data analysis.

Something else which complicates the reporting process is the way survivors will respond to the trauma of an assault, which tends to vary from person to person, Boykas said.

“A lot of people want to take different paths, and a lot of those don’t involve reporting to the police,” Boykas said.

Perry said that the new system would provide for much more efficient and thorough recordkeeping and reporting, and that assault trends could be analyzed more easily.

Last fall, the federal Office on Violence Against Women (OVW), in the U.S. Department of Justice, awarded the university a three-year grant of $300,000 to increase sexual assault education on campus. So far, Perry said, the university has delivered on its promise to hire a sexual misconduct prevention specialist: Christopher Morrin.

Gabby Southworth ’18, president of REPP, was directly involved in meeting and interviewing the candidates. To Southworth, a major factor in interviews was their approaches to reaching the men on campus.

“That’s something we’ve really struggled with here at St. Joe’s, is getting guys involved in these issues,” Southworth said.

Southworth explained that, while she originally thought a woman would be a better candidate, she realized that having a man as the university’s sexual misconduct prevention specialist could potentially help to encourage men on campus to get involved.

“Going into this process, I remember thinking that I wouldn’t want a guy to get hired,” Southworth said. “I was thinking I would want it to be a girl because I would feel more comfortable talking to a girl in this kind of situation. But he was so approachable. I felt like I could talk to him, and not only did he have so much experience and qualifications for this, he was just so genuine.”

Boykas said that having a man as the university’s sexual misconduct prevention specialist is “awesome.”

“It’s really hard when the only people who come out are women,” Boykas said.

Overall, with all the opportunities provided by the grant, Perry hopes that the student body will gain more awareness of the issue.

“[I hope] students will be more informed of elements of sexual assault, as defined by the federal government,” Perry said. We will be more public with students about these issues.”

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